Fast & Furious – Supercharged: Everything We Learned About Universal Studios Florida's New Ride

Last week, I traveled to Orlando, Florida to experience the grand opening of Universal Studios Orlando Resort's newest attraction. Based on the popular car heist film franchise, Fast & Furious – Supercharged puts you in the center of a ridiculously over-the-top freeway car chase. But it's more than an adaptation of the similar tram tour segment from Universal Studios Hollywood, allowing Fast & Furious fans to step into the secret warehouse hideout of America's favorite "family."

Below, I've assembled my reaction to this new attraction and some secrets to the new ride, and explore how it compares to the Hollywood tram tour version.

Fast & Furious Superstars Celebrate Fast & Furious - Supercharged Opening at Universal Orlando

To launch the new ride, Vin Diesel made a grand entrance, fast and furiously driving a car through the air into the San Francisco facade, setting off a series of explosive fireworks. Franchise stars Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Tyrese Gibson and Jordana Brewster were also in attendance to celebrate the new attraction.

fast and furious supercharged queue

How is Fast and Furious Supercharged Different from the Hollywood Tram Tour Segment?

Anyone who frequents Universal Studios Hollywood has probably already experienced the Fast & Furious segment of the tram tour and are wondering what makes this version different. And to be honest, there is a lot less different from this attraction when compared to the Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction, which was based on the west coast park's King Kong 360.

The Immersive Queue is a Complete Joy

The queue is filled with tons of details for both fans of this franchise and longtime Universal Studios Florida guests to enjoy. The queue features 15 vehicles, some from the films, some created just for the attraction, all of which were handcrafted by the car coordinator of the film franchise. The attraction is housed in a brick building set in the San Francisco section of the park that was built in the last six months, but aged to feel like it had been there for 85 years.

The first room is themed like an abandoned brick building, with overgrown vegetation. The second queue room is a warehouse turned into car shop filled with four cars under work and car parts scattered throughout. The third room features a big truck blaring music and projecting scenes from the Fast and Furious movies onto one of the brick walls (which seems to break the logic of being in the Family's secret hideout?). In this room, you can find more parts, acoustic panels on the walls (for what, we don't know – maybe it has something to do with the loud music blasting from the truck?), racks with huge engines, and tactical boxes everywhere. A stainless steel table is home to some bulletproof vests and backpacks and it seems like the crew might be getting ready for another job. In the corner, you'll find lockers with the names of all the family members, including Brian (Paul Walker's character).

Two Rooms With Live Storylines set up the story in this ride. Where the tram tour has a quick phone in from Hobbs, this offers a much more extensive set-up.New Footage From Film Stars: The preshow rooms include new video footage featuring  Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Jordana Brewster's characters. Actors on stage interact with facetime calls from the "family," setting the stage for this warehouse party at the beginning of this car chase and furious supercharged ride vehiclesThe Ride Vehicles are these large partybuses, each transporting seven rows of six people. The lights in the bus strobe along with the blaring rave music as you start and end this adventure. The vehicles themselves seem to be a different version of the vehicles developed for Skull Island. They also have a driver in the front seat, although I don't believe they are animatronic figures like Kong.The Location of the Ride has been changed from Los Angeles to San Francisco to match the location of the attraction in the Wharf area of the park. To the "haters" who believe that Universal was just trying to save money by porting a Hollywood tram tour segment over to a Florida ride, here is the proof you're wrong: the entire ride footage had to be re-rendered to change to background from a Los Angeles freeway to San Francisco. This includes building and signage along the road, and that can't have come cheap. Honestly, I'm surprised they spent the money to do this as I think most park guests wouldn't have noticed the change in location, but it shows the importance of unbreakable and immersive theme from Universal.

The Ride is No Longer 3D, but Instead Has a Higher Resolution and Framerate

The Hollywood tram tour version of the ride is presented in 3D, but the Florida counterpart is not. Universal creatives explained to us before experiencing the attraction that they decided to make the ride 2D because of the advancements in high frame rate projection, which makes the ride feel like it's in 3D. I'll be honest: whatever projection technology they are using does not look in any way more 3D than any 2D projection screen I've seen. That said, it appears to be brighter and more vibrant than the Hollywood tram tour.

The Pros of Experiencing This Attraction in 2D Versus 3D: The experience is so immersive that I always find myself, at least on the Hollywood tram tour version, looking into my peripheral vision, which of course breaks the 3D illusion and results in my seeing a mess of overlayed images. That problem doesn't exist on the 2D version of the attraction, where you can look in any angle you want to and see every crazy thing that is happening on the road around you. The screen image seems a bit brighter and more vibrant, and you don't have to wear annoying 3D glasses and worry about them getting wet.The Cons of the 2D Version: The CG created for this ride doesn't always look great and I'm a believer that 3D presentation often hides bad CG. The bad CG is more obvious in this version of the ride. I also feel the 3D version is more immersive.

I'm wondering if Universal is feeling a backlash from guests on 3D rides. The park has certainly had a lot of them over the years, but it seems in recent years, as theatrical 3D ticket sales are in a decline, maybe guests are looking for more experiences that don't require a layer of glasses. Remember, Universal launched Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in 3D in their Hollywood park, but shortly after opening decided to make it a 2D experience instead. I wonder if this is a beginning of a trend for Universal and the theme park industry.

Universal Creatives insist that they always choose the best technology to service the particular story they are telling, but I'm sensing the begining of a trend here. I remember at D23 Expo, Disney Imagineering pitching the Mickey and Minnie ride that is replacing the Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios as a 3D ride without 3D glasses.

This Ride Offers Virtual Queue Technology: Supercharged is the second ride in Universal Studios Florida to offer the virtual queue technology. This allows you to check in on your phone or at the kiosks in front of the ride and get a return time to ride the attraction. When they first introduced this with Jimmy Fallon's Race Through New York ride, it excited me because it seemed like it could be the future of theme park line management. That ride didn't even offer a queue, but a small waiting area with fun games, comfortable chairs, and show and character opportunities. If theme parks didn't dedicate so much room to long queues, that would mean they could possibly fit more rides while allowing park guests to experience more attractions per hour throughout their visit.

I'm a little disappointed at how the Virtual Queue tech is offered in this ride because it basically seems like Universal is building an in-between solution from their expensive VIP Express passes to their normal day park tickets. It's basically what Disney offers with FastPass. It's certainly a good thing, an added value for the normal ticket buyer, but it doesn't seem as innovative as it was first presented with the Fallon ride and Volcano Bay.

The Ride Itself Isn't Too Different: I enjoy the Fast and Furious segment on the tram tour as its just so ridiculous, and since the ride film here is pretty much the same, it's essentially the same experience. I have a lot of friends who hate the tram tour segment and there isn't anything here that will change their mind. The difference with the standalone Supercharged is the immersive queues, which is bound to be fun for fans of the franchise to explore. But I do expect people who aren't aware of this ride's tram tour beginnings might believe it's a little short for an attraction experience. The version in Hollywood is part of a much longer tram tour experience which I think people can more easily account for their time in line. But it's more worth checking out if you can schedule a time on Universal's virtual line and furious supercharged easter eggs

The Legacy of Universal Studios Florida

I'll admit it, when Skull Island: Reign of Kong was announced, I was initially a little annoyed that Universal was turning a tram tour segment into a ride at the Florida theme park. At first, it seemed lazy to me. Of course, this was before I had ridden the attraction, which is hands and feet better than the Hollywood tram tour segment. I now love Skull Island and ride it everytime I'm in Islands of Adventure.

Part of my acceptance was the realization that the legacy of Universal Studios Florida is in the adaptation of tram tour segments. Remember, Earthquake and the original King Kong segments on the Hollywood tram tour inspired those early attractions in Universal Studios Florida. Adapting segments from the Hollywood tram tour into rides in Florida is almost akin to Hollywood turning books into a movie – it's part of the blood and legacy of Universal Orlando.

The new attraction was built in the San Francisco Wharf area of the park (right next to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley), replacing the previous Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You! attraction, which coincidently also featured Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The space was retrofitted from the park's Earthquake: The Big One attraction. And the footprint also covers the space where the Beetlejuice's Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue show had played since 1992.

fast and furious supercharged easter eggs

Easter Eggs

Universal Studios Flordia typically honors their previous attractions with easter eggs hidden throughout the rides and lands that replace them. For instance, you might be able to find part of the Jaws ride in shops in Diagon Alley if you look closely enough, as the land taken up by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion replaced the park's Amity Island area. In this same time honored tradition, the queue for Fast & Furious: Supercharged is filled with all kinds of fun easter eggs referencing these previous attractions.

Some of the easter eggs are very obvious, like a Beetlejuice collectible statue sitting on one of the top shelves of a work desk in the shop (see photo above) or an Earthquake! ride keychain hanging off one of the many keys in Dom's trophycase. Others are a bit more clever, like a Disaster jacket draped around a chair somewhere in the attraction.

My favorite reference to the old rides that used to occupy this space comes in a room right before you board the ride vehicles. You'll find four power boxes on the wall, three of them burnt out and clearly not functional with the power breakers set off, with the last one in the on position. On the breaker boxes are nondescript labels like "FF-03.2018" (the box with the working breaker, referencing the Fast and the Furious Supercharged ride which opened in March of this year), "D!-01.2008" (referencing Disaster's opening day) and "EQ-06.1990" (referencing Earthquake's 1990 opening). You can see a photo of this above the legacy section above.

There are a few Back to the Future references to be found, including an OUTTATIME license plate on one of the work shelves. In Dom's display of all the keys and car deeds he's won over the years in races, you're likely to find one from Doc Brown himself (complete with a maybe too on the nose Deloreon keychain). In this area, you can also find references to Harry Potter, Smokey and the Bandit, The Blues Brothers and more. So if you're willing to split up your group and go single rider, it may be worth checking this display out.

Supercharged opened the same time as CityWalk's Voodoo Doughnut, which may be why Universal creatives hid a nod to the donut store in an interactive racing game that can be found in the child swap room for the attraction.

Paul Walker Tributes

One reference to Walker that I missed comes in the single rider queue (but you can see a photo of here thanks to TouringPlans), where you walk by a scene from the Family's BBQ. One beer on the table is left symbolically "poured out" in tribute of the franchise's deceased star, Paul Walker.

A Problem of Continuity

I guess one of my biggest complaints about this ride is it feels out of date at launch. The pre-show includes Jordana Brewster's character, Mia, who rode off with Brian into the sunset a couple movies ago. Sure, she's part of the family and it was nice seeing her return, but it doesn't make much sense continuity-wise that she's back helping the crew. Then there are all of the references to Paul Walker's character Brian, which is sweet but doesn't make much sense considering he's no longer on the team, off on "retirement."

And then the villain for the ride is Luke Evans' character Owen Shaw, who in the last film helped the crew and was no longer really a villain. I'd love to believe this ride takes place five years ago, but calendars hanging up in the warehouse portion of the queue indicate it's set in June 2018. I'm sure this continuity will bother hardcore fans of the series, but more casual fans will just enjoy seeing Mia again, discovering all the Brian references, and seeing a character they know as the bad guy in this adventure.

Photos From The Grand Opening

Here are some more photos from the grand opening of the attraction, showcasing the event and the immersive interactive queue.

Photos by Kitra Remick.